Jomary Torres may be one of the rising stars of the ONE Championship women’s atomweight division, but she admits she owes everything to her grandmother, Feliciana.
Torres’ parents left her and her one-year-old brother in her grandmother’s care after the pair split up and started separate lives. Feliciana became Jomary’s only parental influence as she raised her and her brother single-handedly.
“She stood as our mother and father because she raised us,” Torres explains.
“If she was not there for me, I would not be here. When I was little, my parents did not visit us. My mom never visited us, so that is why my grandma is the one I consider as my mom.
“Even during Mother’s Day, we would look for our grandmother. When we graduated, we also looked for our grandmother instead of our mother.
“[My mother] has been gone for too long, anyway. We even call her, but she either drops our call, or tells us she is busy. We did not keep her from choosing her new family.”
Feliciana took on extra work at a school cafeteria and sold bananas to help provide for her newly-acquired family. Her hard work allowed her to put both children through school.
She disciplined the children, but her soft side would often prevail, as Jomary remembers.
“Sometimes, she told us not to wander around,” Jomary begins.
“If we did, then we got punished when we arrived home. My brother and I were little troublemakers back then — we would not listen to her. However, after she got mad, she gave us food, and all was well again.”
Seeing how hard her grandmother was working to provide for them, Jomary took on a job as a nanny after graduating from high school, moving to Manila where the opportunities were more readily available.
While she was in the city, she discovered martial arts at Catalan Fighting Systems, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Now one of ONE’s most exciting rising stars, “The Zamboanginian Fighter” tries to provide for her grandmother so she can enjoy looking after her great-grandchildren.
“Sometimes, I give her some money so that she can sell something around the school while waiting for the kids, just so she has something to do,” Torres explains.
“We keep telling her to stop already, because she is too old, but she just scolds us, and does it anyway. She wants to stay busy.”
Her grandmother’s determination is something that Torres carries into every bout she competes in, and it has helped her during her tireless work on the mats preparing for her matches.
“I learned how to have a good attitude,” Jomary says.
“She never forced us to do anything we did not want to do, and she taught us what is wrong, and what is right. Her affection also rubbed off on me – even if we were facing difficulties, I learned the most important thing is that our family stays together.”
Torres’ inspiration for success is firmly tied to her grandmother’s dream of buying new land so the family can move and live rent-free in a permanent family home. It’s something her grandmother hopes to do one day, but Torres has other ideas. She wants to buy it for her.
“She is actually looking to buy a piece of land so she does not have to pay rent where they are staying now,” Jomary explains.
“I plan on buying [the land] so she does not have to worry about it anymore.”
Torres is currently preparing for her upcoming bout against Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday, 22 September.
But she recently took the time out from her preparations to attend a wedding back in her home town of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte. And when she did, she paid a surprise visit to the 81-year-old woman whose love and tireless hard to helped give her the start in life she needed.
“I called to tell her that I had a package delivered to her, but she did not know that I would be coming home myself,” the 22-year-old says.
“When I got to our house, I was dressed differently than my family was used to seeing, so nobody greeted me when I got out of the car. Another neighbour recognised me and told my grandmother, ‘Hey, your package arrived! It is a person!’
“I told her, ‘Nay, your package is here!’ And that is when she cried. I guess she missed her granddaughter so much.”